In a race that went down to the wire in the final lap at last weekend’s Gran Premiod’Italia TIM, the Ducati Team recorded one of its best results yet this season in front of an enthusiastic Italian crowd at its home race in Mugello.
Valentino Rossi, who fought his way from tenth on the grid to his best dry finish this season in fifth, did well to hold off a spirited race-long attack from Cal Crutchlow, while Nicky Hayden only narrowly missed out on sixth as he diced with Stefan Bradl in the final few turns.
Alessandro Cicognani, MotoGP Project Director at Ducati Team, spoke about the day’s events: “It was our home race, so we really cared about this one. Valentino put in extra effort, and Nicky rode a great race as well, but in the end he lost two positions on the last lap, so for sure he’s a bit disappointed.”
The team, despite not quite able to challenge for the podium, showed significantly improved pace all weekend and looks to be on the right path. Cicognani commented: “I think in the races since Silverstone we have shown a good improvement. We’ve closed the gap a little. Today, apart from Lorenzo and Pedrosa, the other riders were just one second in front of us, so not as big a deal as it was at the beginning of the season. Working hard, maybe we’ll be able to be back in the position to fight for the podium soon.”
Buoyed by the positive results at its home track, the team now heads across the pond to Laguna Seca, where it looks to take yet another step in the right direction. The Italian is optimistic about Ducati’s chances: “For sure Nicky, as Valentino did here, will put in extra effort at [his home race in] Laguna. He’s doing quite well. Maybe he didn’t reap the rewards for what he showed during practice here, so we’ll try to change that for Laguna and of course look for Valentino to be consistent again. Maybe we can have a more positive second part to the season.”
Rossi was pleased with the race pace he could achieve with his Desmosedici and will be looking for the same, if not more, in the US: “Overall, I think Sunday was the best dry result of the year for Ducati, because Nicky had a great race as well. We’re quite happy, as our pace was very good, especially towards the end.”
Hayden, who kept Ducati fans on their toes with a great fight for the podium, was upset about the result, yet pleased he was able to give it a try: “I got a good start, but I was spinning a lot in the beginning, and I thought I was going to destroy the tyre. Once I went to a smoother map, I was able to really start driving off the corners and bringing the group back. Those last seven, eight laps, I really gave it everything; I wasn’t sure I was going to finish, but I was sure I was going to go for it. On the last lap, after I went by Bradl for fourth, I was only thinking about trying to pass ‘Dovi’ and get the Ducati on the podium, so I don’t regret the fact that I tried.”